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June 20: New York Times: "You may be hunched over your phone right now, worrying about reports that young people are growing horns on their skulls from spending too much time hunched over smartphones.... Recent articles by the BBC and the Washington Post have cited a 2018 study in the journal Scientific Reports saying that these bone growths have been turning up more often than expected in people aged 18 to 30. The study suggests that 'sustained aberrant postures associated with the emergence and extensive use of hand-held contemporary technologies, such as smartphones and tablets,' are to blame.... Experts give the report mixed reviews." ...

     ... Update. Uh, it seems one of the authors of the "scientific study" is a chiropractor called David Shahar, who used his own patients as subjects of the study AND, according to Quartz, is "the creator of Dr. Posture, an online store that advertises information and products related to forward head posture. One section tells users how to 'look and feel your best in three easy steps,' which include watching a video by Shahar, downloading at-home exercises, and sleeping with a Thoracic Pillow, which Shahar has trademarked and sold for $195." So hunch over, pick up your phones, & call your friends with the good news that the "study" is more likely a marketing scam than a warning about another dire effect of cellphone use. Thanks to safari for the link.

 

Nick Schager in the Daily Beast: "Premiering on Netflix and in select theaters on July 24, The Great Hack is the most enraging, terrifying and — I don’t use this term lightly — important documentary of the year. Directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim..., its subject is the Cambridge Analytica data scandal—a story that’s galling on the surface, and infinitely more bone-chilling when one considers its far-reaching ramifications. That’s because Cambridge Analytica’s deceptive and criminal relationship with, and conduct on, Mark Zuckerberg’s social media platform had world-altering consequences: helping launch the Brexit movement, and successfully aiding the election campaign of Donald Trump.” 

Guardian: “The businessman Arron Banks and the unofficial Brexit campaign Leave.EU have issued a legal threat against streaming giant Netflix in relation to The Great Hack, a new documentary about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the abuse of personal data. The threat comes as press freedom campaigners and charity groups warn the government in an open letter that UK courts are being used to 'intimidate and silence' journalists working in the public interest. In a joint letter to key cabinet members, they call for new legislation to stop 'vexatious lawsuits', highlighting one filed last week by Banks against campaigning journalist Carole Cadwalladr.”

AP: "MAD, the long-running satirical magazine that influenced everyone from 'Weird Al' Yankovic to the writers of 'The Simpsons,' will be leaving newsstands after its August issue. Really. The illustrated humor magazine — instantly recognizable by the gap-toothed smiling face of mascot Alfred E. Neuman — will still be available in comic shops and through mail to subscribers. But after its fall issue it will just reprint previously published material. The only new material will come in special editions at the end of the year."

Hill: "The Democrats beat the Republicans in a high-scoring 14-7 win Wednesday [June 26] night in the 58th annual Congressional Baseball Game. It was the Democrats' 10th win in 11 years."

New York Times: "... the Library of Congress has named [Joy Harjo] America’s new poet laureate. She will take over for Tracy K. Smith, who has held the position for two years.... Harjo, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, is the 23rd poet and first Native person to be selected for the role."

New York: "The mass of the metal 'anomaly' beneath the moon’s largest crater is five times greater than the big island of Hawaii, and according to a new study from scientists at Baylor University, it could contain metals remaining from an ancient asteroid impact, weighing in at around 4.8 quintillion pounds."

New York Times: "A skeleton in Siberia nearly 10,000 years old has yielded DNA that reveals a striking kinship to living Native Americans, scientists reported on Wednesday. The finding, published in the journal Nature, provides an important new clue to the migrations that first brought people to the Americas. 'In terms of peopling of the Americas, we have found close to the missing link,' said Eske Willerslev, a geneticist at the University of Copenhagen and a co-author of the new paper. 'It’s not the direct ancestor, but it’s extremely close.'... The DNA of [a group scientists call] the Ancient Paleo-Siberians is remarkably similar to that of Native Americans. Dr. Willerslev estimates that Native Americans can trace about two-thirds of their ancestry to these previously unknown people.”

New York Times: Navy pilots flying along the East Coast of the U.S. spotted UFOs "almost daily from the summer of 2014 to March 2015.... The sightings were reported to the Pentagon’s shadowy, little-known Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which analyzed the radar data, video footage and accounts provided by senior officers from the Roosevelt. Luis Elizondo, a military intelligence official who ran the program until he resigned in 2017, called the sightings 'a striking series of incidents.'” In one incident, the UFO flew between two Navy jets "flying in tandem about 100 feet apart over the Atlantic east of Virginia Beach.... It looked to the pilot ... like a sphere encasing a cube."

Mrs. McCrabbie: This actually seems crazy to me:

New York Times: "A shiny stainless steel sculpture created by Jeff Koons in 1986, inspired by a child’s inflatable toy, sold at Christie’s on Wednesday night for $91.1 million with fees, breaking the record at auction for a work by a living artist, set just last November by David Hockney. Robert E. Mnuchin, an art dealer and the father of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, made the winning bid for Mr. Koons’s 1986 'Rabbit' from an aisle seat near the front of the salesroom."

Might as well just get this -- it's vintage! it's "authentic"! -- and give it pride-of-place in the front hall. Sure, visitors will think you're tasteless & nuts, but in such a vintage, authentic way.

UPDATE: (May 19): New York Times: Mnuchin would not reveal the identity of his client; i.e., the purchaser of Stainless Bunny is. During an NYT interview, "He was near tears when asked about his son Steve and refused to comment about their relationship. But friends said that he is in an impossible predicament, conflicted over his sense of duty about being a loyal father and his concern as a citizen that President Trump is bad for America."

David McCullough Is a Crap Historian. Rebecca Onion of Slate reviews his book on the history -- okay, make that "hagiographic platitudes" -- about the settlement of the Northwest Territory. "Its success (it is No. 10 on Amazon’s best-seller list for books, as of Friday) shows how big the gap between critical history and the “popular history” that makes it to best-seller lists, Costco, and Target remains.” Mrs. McC: Onion doesn't mention it, but I get the impression all the "settling" was done by men; apparently the women's tasks were of no account. Somehow I don't think most of the "ladies" sat around drinking tea & doing needlepoint in their pretty parlors.

Tuesday
Jun182019

The Commentariat -- June 19, 2019

Late Morning Update:

Kyle Cheney of Politico: "Democrats erupted Wednesday at what they said was the White House's repeated interference in their interview with Hope Hicks, a longtime confidant of ... Donald Trump who was a central witness in special counsel Robert Mueller's obstruction of justice probe. Three House Judiciary Committee lawmakers exiting the closed-door interview said a White House lawyer repeatedly claimed Hicks had blanket immunity from discussing her time in the White House. They said she wouldn't answer questions as basic as where she sat in the West Wing or whether she told the truth to Mueller. 'It's a farce,' said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who said Hicks at one point tried to answer a question about an episode involving former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski only to be cut off by counsel. 'We're watching obstruction of justice in action,' said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.). Lieu said the White House lawyers were 'making crap up' to block Hicks from testifying. He said she did answer some questions about her time on the Trump campaign that provided new information but declined to characterize her comments."

Lisa Friedman of the New York Times: "The Trump administration on Wednesday finalized a package of new rules to replace the Clean Power Plan, former President Barack Obama's signature effort to reduce planet-warming emissions from coal plants. The new measure, known as the Affordable Clean Energy rule, will very likely prompt a flurry of legal challenges from environmental groups that could have far-reaching implications for global warming. If the Supreme Court ultimately upholds the rule's approach to the regulation of pollution, it would be difficult or impossible for future presidents to tackle climate change through the Environmental Protection Agency.... The Obama administration interpreted that law as giving the Environmental Protection Agency broad authority to set national restrictions on carbon emissions. The Trump administration asserts that the law limits the agency to regulating emissions at the level of individual power plants."

Andrew Kramer of the New York Times: "International prosecutors on Wednesday said that four men, including three with close ties to the Russian military and intelligence, would face murder charges in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine five years ago, killing 298 people. Fred Westerbeke, the chief prosecutor of the Netherlands, said that the trial would begin in the Netherlands on March 9, 2020. The accused are unlikely to be present, however, since three are in Russia and the fourth is believed to be in the breakaway region in Ukraine."

~~~~~~~~~~

All the Best People, Ctd.

And Another One Bites the Dust. Michael Shear & Helene Cooper of the New York Times: "President Trump on Tuesday pulled the nomination of Patrick M. Shanahan to be the permanent defense secretary, saying on Twitter that Mr. Shanahan would devote more time to his family. The move leaves the Pentagon without a permanent leader at a time of escalating tensions with Iran after attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. The Trump administration has blamed Iran for the explosions that damaged the two tankers. Mr. Trump named Mark T. Esper, the secretary of the Army and a former Raytheon executive, to take over as acting secretary of defense. He did not say whether Mr. Esper would be nominated for the permanent position. In a Twitter post, the president said the withdrawal was the decision of Mr. Shanahan, who has served for six months as acting defense secretary." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Kate Riga & David Taintor of TPM: "Shanahan's withdrawal is not completely unexpected, as Yahoo News reported [also linked below] Monday that his confirmation process was being hampered by a longer-than-usual FBI background check, which included a domestic violence episode that resulted in his ex-wife's arrest. He addressed that and some other grisly familial incidents with the Washington Post in a story published nearly simultaneously with Trump's tweets. In November 2011, Shanahan's then-17-year-old son William beat his mother with a baseball bat, rendering her unconscious in a pool of her own blood. She sustained skull fractures and internal injuries so severe that they required surgery.... Shanahan ... addressed the event that ended in his wife's arrest, claiming that she started punching him in the face while he tried to sleep and proceeded to attempt to light his possessions on fire before the police arrived and observed his injuries." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Tom Vanden Brook & Kevin Johnson of USA Today: "The FBI has been examining a violent domestic dispute from nine years ago between acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan and his then-wife as part of a background investigation.... The incident, in which Shanahan and his then-wife Kimberley both claimed to the police that they had been punched by the other, did not surface when Trump nominated Shanahan to be the Pentagon's second-in-command two years ago, or when he was selected to be the interim defense chief this year. Shanahan said he 'never laid a hand on his former wife. His former wife, who now goes by the name Kimberley Jordinson, said she stands by her account. The episode could have been a potential roadblock for Shanahan if Trump formally nominated him for the secretary's post, which requires Senate confirmation, because a key lawmaker and Senate aides said it could have raised questions about his ability to combat longstanding problems of violence against women in the military." ...

... Five Dollar Feminist of Wonkette: "Safe bet that Shanahan's nomination as Father of the Year is on ice as well amid allegations of spousal abuse and his disgraceful behavior after his teenage son cracked his mother's skull with a baseball bat in 2011 after which Shanahan successfully argued that the 17-year-old should get a deferred adjudication and disappeared the kid's phone, which may or may not have contained evidence of an illegal sexual relationship with a much older woman. YES, THAT'S JUST THE START.... It's absofuckinglutely reprehensible that he was so thirsty for the Sec Def job that he put his family in the awful position of having this all come out again." The Washington Post story, that first detailed the Shanahan Family Troubles, is here.

Eliana Johnson & Marianne Levine of Politico: "A little more than a year ago, moments after he fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by tweet..., Donald Trump ... told reporters, 'I'm really at a point where we're getting very close to having the Cabinet and other things that I want.' It hasn't quite worked out that way. Instead, Trump has a Cabinet by default, with many of its members simply being the last person standing after others pulled out of the running, declined the president's offers or couldn't get through their confirmation hearings.... If there's a thread running through them all, it's a president with a penchant for choosing many top appointees based on instinct -- and without regard for prior government experience -- plus a White House whose vetting operation is far from thorough and a thin Republican Senate majority with little room for error." Mrs. McC: As if to prove that everything he says is 100 percent meaningless, Trump said Tuesday, "We have a very good vetting process. You take a look at our Cabinet and our secretary it's very good. But we have a great vetting process."

Saleha Mohsin & Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg News: "The White House explored the legality of demoting Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in February, soon after ... Donald Trump talked about firing him, according to people familiar with the matter The White House counsel's office weighed the legal implications of stripping Powell of his chairmanship and leaving him as a Fed governor, the people said, in what would be an unprecedented move. A replacement would have to be nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate. Trump's team conducted the legal analysis and came to a conclusion that has remained closely held within the White House.... It isn't clear whether Trump directed the legal review, and the people didn't describe the outcome.... Fed spokeswoman Michelle Smith said in an email: 'Under the law, a Federal Reserve Board chair can only be removed for cause.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Geneva Sands of CNN: "Katharine Gorka, a political appointee at the Department of Homeland Security who has stirred controversy for her views on terrorism and her role in the department's efforts to combat violent extremism in the US, is expected to be the new press secretary at Customs and Border Protection.... Gorka is married to Sebastian Gorka, the former deputy assistant to Trump, who was an outspoken and combative defender of the President's national security agenda, known for his dire warnings of Islamic terrorism while writing for Breitbart.... Both Gorkas wrote for Breitbart...."

Andy Borowitz of the New Yorker: "A leading candidate to replace the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, was disqualified after telling the truth repeatedly on his job application, the White House has confirmed." ...

     ... Contributor forrest wants to know, "When did Andy Borowitz switch from satire to actual facts
reporting?"


Tessa Berenson
of Time: "Facing twin challenges in the Persian Gulf..., Donald Trump said in an interview with Time Monday that he might take military action to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, but cast doubt on going to war to protect international oil supplies.... Last week, U.S. officials blamed Iran for attacks against Norwegian and Japanese oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Trump described those and other recent attacks attributed by administration officials to Iran as limited. 'So far, it's been very minor,' Trump told Time." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Jonathan Landay & Matt Spetalnick of Reuters: "Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blocked the inclusion of Saudi Arabia on a U.S. list of countries that recruit child soldiers, dismissing his experts' findings that a Saudi-led coalition has been using under-age fighters in Yemen's civil war, according to four people familiar with the matter. The decision, which drew immediate criticism from human rights activists and a top Democratic lawmaker [Bob Menendez (N.J.)], could prompt new accusations that ... Donald Trump's administration is prioritizing security and economic interests in relations with oil-rich Saudi Arabia, a major U.S. ally and arms customer. Pompeo's move followed unusually intense internal debate. It comes amid heightened tensions between the United States and Iran, the Saudis' bitter regional rival." Mrs. McC: Maybe a part of the Kushner Kickback. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Ivan Nechepurenko of the New York Times: "The Kremlin warned on Monday that reported American hacking into Russia's electric power grid could escalate into a cyberwar with the United States, but insisted that it was confident in the system's ability to repel electronic attacks. Dmitri S. Peskov, President Vladimir V. Putin&'s spokesman, also raised concerns that President Trump was reportedly not informed about the effort, which was the subject of a New York Times report on Saturday that detailed an elaborate system of cybertools deployed by the United States inside Russia's energy system and other targets." Mrs. McC: Apparently Vlad finds the NYT more reliable than Trump, who said the Times story was "NOT TRUE!" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Nick Wadhams & Saleha Mohsin of Bloomberg: "The Trump administration is weighing three sanctions packages to punish Turkey over its purchases of the Russian S-400 missile-defense system, according to people familiar with the matter. The most severe package under discussion ... would all but cripple the already troubled Turkish economy, according to three people familiar with the matter.... So far, Turkey been defiant over the sanctions threat because trust in Washington has broken down, according to three Turkish officials." --s ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: In view of Trump's affinity for Turkey's president Recep Erdogan, I'd advise the "Trump administration" to follow its Don't-Tell-Trump policy.

Zolan Kanno-Youngs & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Immigration and Customs Enforcement in recent days has bulked up the branch responsible for carrying out deportations in preparation for the mass arrests of undocumented immigrants, two Department of Homeland Security officials said on Tuesday, adding that the agency could not immediately deport 'millions of illegal aliens' as President Trump had promised the night before.... On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Trump repeated that immigration officials planned to conduct a deportation operation next week. 'They know. They know,' Mr. Trump said as he left for Florida."

Hamed Aleaziz of BuzzFeed News: "The newly appointed leader of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, Ken Cuccinelli, sent an email to staffers Tuesday in which he appeared to push asylum officers to stop allowing some people seeking refuge in the country passage at an initial screening at the border.... '... USCIS must, in full compliance with the law, make sure we are properly screening individuals who claim fear but nevertheless do not have a significant possibility of receiving a grant of asylum or another form of protection available under our nation's laws,' he said. Cuccinelli added that officers have tools to combat 'frivolous claims' and to 'ensure that [they] are upholding our nation's laws by only making positive credible fear determinations in cases that have a significant possibility of success.' One official at the Department of Homeland Security -- of which USCIS is a part -- said the email was 'insane,' while former officials said the email was clearly a threat." ...

Lauren Fox & Phil Mattingly of CNN: "The top two appropriators in the US Senate have reached an agreement on a $4.6 billion funding package to address the influx of migrants at the southern border that has been deemed a "humanitarian crisis," according to three people familiar with the deal. The agreement between Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, and Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the panel, includes $2.88 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services to be directed to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which administration officials warned lawmakers would run out of money by the end of this month without the emergency cash infusion. The Senate Appropriations Committee will mark up the agreement on Wednesday and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he plans to put it on the Senate floor by the end of next week."

Seth Borenstei & Nicky Forster of the AP: "After decades of improvement, America's air may not be getting any cleaner. Over the last two years the nation had more polluted air days than just a few years earlier, federal data shows.... There were 15% more days with unhealthy air in America both last year and the year before than there were on average from 2013 through 2016, the four years when America had its fewest number of those days since at least 1980.... Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed just the opposite, saying earlier this month in Ireland: 'We have the cleanest air in the world, in the United States, and it's gotten better since I'm president.'... The Trump administration is expected to replace an Obama-era rule designed to limit emissions from electric power plants on Wednesday." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: BUT Joe Romm has some bad news for the Dirty-Liar-in-Chief & good news for Earth. See story linked below.

Vera Bergengruen of Time: "A new lawsuit filed on Tuesday alleges that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo broke the law by allowing ... Donald Trump to seize the notes from a key meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and failing to take any steps to preserve records of their other face-to-face meetings. The lawsuit filed by American Oversight and Democracy Forward, two progressive non-profit government watchdog organizations, says that the Federal Records Act requires Pompeo to preserve the meeting notes prepared by State Department employees.... Tuesday's lawsuit comes a week before the next G20 summit, which will take place in Osaka, Japan, on June 28 and 29."

Ken Vogel of the New York Times: "A Ukrainian-Russian developer who wanted access to President Trump's inauguration filed a lawsuit on Tuesday saying he was bilked out of the $200,000 he paid for what he thought would be V.I.P. tickets to the event. The developer, Pavel Fuks, who once discussed a Moscow real estate project with Mr. Trump, said in the lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, that he had paid the money to a firm at the direction of Yuri Vanetik, a prominent Republican fund-raiser and sometime lobbyist. But, the lawsuit said, Mr. Vanetik failed to come through with the promised tickets, and Mr. Fuks ended up watching the inauguration from a Washington hotel bar.... Mr. Fuks's lawsuit is seeking a refund from Mr. Vanetik, plus damages.... The lawsuit sheds new light on efforts to accommodate foreign politicians and business executives who sought to attend Mr. Trump's inauguration to press their agendas, curry favor or make influential connections with the incoming administration. It is illegal for foreign nationals to buy tickets from the committees that host the official parties and other events around United States presidential inaugurations...."

Presidential Race 2016. Frances Robles & Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times have a long piece on the the Trump campaign's successful efforts to gain the endorsement of Jerry Falwell, Jr. in 2016. A "complicated narrative is emerging about the behind-the-scenes maneuvering in the months before that important endorsement. That backstory, in true Trump-tabloid fashion, features the friendship between Mr. Falwell, his wife and a former pool attendant at the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach; the family's investment in a gay-friendly youth hostel; purported sexually revealing photographs involving the Falwells; and an attempted hush-money arrangement engineered by the president's former fixer, Michael Cohen. The revelations have arisen from a lawsuit filed against the Falwells in Florida; the investigation into Mr. Cohen by federal prosecutors in New York; and the gonzo-style tactics of the comedian and actor Tom Arnold.... New details ... show how deeply Mr. Falwell was enmeshed in Mr. Cohen's and Mr. Trump's world."

Presidential Race 2020

Rallying Like It's 2016. White People Bussed into Orlando. Maggie Haberman, et al., of the New York Times: "President Trump delivered a fierce denunciation of his rivals, the news media and the political establishment on Tuesday as he rallied a huge crowd of raucous supporters in Florida to officially open his re-election campaign, evoking the dark messaging and personal grievances that animated his 2016 victory." ...

     ... According to CNN's liveblog of the rally, "... it was short on fresh material, the President repeatedly slammed 2016 rival Hillary Clinton." He twice mentioned Joe Biden briefly. Mrs. McC: BTW, when I tuned into CNN at maybe 8:15 pm, the network was carrying Trump's rally speech live, so a return to 2016 on CNN's part, too. ...

... "2016 All Over Again." Maggie Haberman & Annie Karni of the New York Times: "Die-hard supporters bussed in from across the state on Tuesday to celebrate the 'official' kickoff of Mr. Trump's 2020 campaign appeared frozen in time, reliving Mr. Trump's surprise victory over Hillary Clinton.... He mentioned Hillary Clinton more than half a dozen times before he even acknowledged a single Democratic candidate running for president in 2020." ...

... "Bizarro World." Jeff Greenfield in Politico: "The President's strongest case for re-election is the current state of the economy. And he stayed resolutely on message for perhaps a minute and a half, until he returned to a theme he far prefers -- his 2016 election victory, which he called 'a defining moment in American history' -- and then pointed to the rear of the hall where the media were stationed, and said: 'Ask them -- right there! By the way, that's a lot of fake news right there.'... If you scrape away the paranoid rants, you can find a few shards of what the campaign operatives and speechwriters had in mind. And that is a doubling down on the populist-conspiratorial themes that were a key to his 2016 win."

... Orlando Sentinel Editors: "Donald Trump is in Orlando to announce the kickoff of his re-election campaign. We're here to announce our endorsement for president in 2020, or, at least, who we're not endorsing: Donald Trump.... Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies. So many lies -- from white lies to whoppers -- told out of ignorance, laziness, recklessness, expediency or opportunity.... Trump's successful assaul on truth is the great casualty of this presidency, followed closely by his war on decency.... Trump has diminished our standing in the world. He reneges on deals, attacks allies and embraces enemies.... Except for Lyndon Johnson in 1964, the Sentinel backed Republican presidential nominees from 1952 through 2004, when we recommended John Kerry over another four years of George W. Bush." (Also linked yesterday.)

Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair: "... Trump family members have already been sounding alarms that Republican mega donors aren't stepping up.... Trump has lost the financial support of one of his biggest backers in 2016: the Mercers. With their ties to Steve Bannon, Breitbart, and Cambridge Analytica, Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah were superstars last cycle. According to half a dozen sources familiar with the reclusive family's political activities, the Mercers have drastically curtailed their political donations in recent months and will likely not play a significant role in 2020."

Dareh Gregorian of NBC News: "NBC on Tuesday announced the candidate positions on the stage for the two-night [first Democratic debate] event [in Miami, Florida,] on June 26 and 27, and it will feature the contenders who've been leading in the polls in the middle of the stage. That means on Night One, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas will be in the middle, while Night Two will feature former Vice President Biden and [Sen. Bernie] Sanders, the Vermont senator, standing side-by-side at center stage.... The podium placements were based on each of the candidates' qualifying public polling through Wednesday, June 12."

Katie Glueck of the New York Times: "Joseph R. Biden Jr., defending himself on Tuesday night against suggestions that he is too 'old fashioned' for today's Democratic Party, invoked two Southern segregationist senators by name as he fondly recalled the 'civility' of the Senate in the 1970s and 1980s." Mrs. McC: Ah, yes, the good old days when a young senator accorded deep respect to overt racists.


** Joe Romm
of ThinkProgress: "A new study reveals just how stunningly rapid the clean energy transition is. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reported on Tuesday that renewables are now the cheapest form of new electricity generation across two thirds of the world.... Yet just five years ago, renewables were the cheapest source of new power in only 1% of the world.... Equally remarkable, BNEF projects that by 2030, wind and solar will 'undercut existing coal and gas almost everywhere.' In other words, within a decade it will be cheaper to build and operate new renewable power plants than it will be to just keep operating existing fossil fuel plants -- even in the United States.... The result is that we are shifting from a world today where two thirds of power generation is from fossil fuels to one three decades from now where two thirds is zero carbon. As BNEF puts it, we are 'ending the era of fossil fuel dominance in the power sector.'" --safari: Next step is uprooting the dirty energy lobbies from the D.C. swamp. ...

... AND Not a Moment Too Soon.

Reuters: "Permafrost at outposts in the Canadian Arctic is thawing 70 years earlier than predicted, an expedition has discovered, in the latest sign that the global climate crisis is accelerating even faster than scientists had feared ... [as] a succession of unusually hot summers had destabilised the upper layers of giant subterranean ice blocks that had been frozen solid for millennia." --s

Oliver Darcy & Lauren del Valle of CNN: "A Connecticut judge on Tuesday sanctioned right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for suggesting that a lawyer for the Sandy Hook families, who are suing the InfoWars founder for his past claims that the 2012 shooting was staged, tried to frame him with child pornography. The ruling, handed down from Bridgeport Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis, came after attorneys representing several Sandy Hook families in their lawsuit against Jones filed a motion on Monday asking the judge to review footage of Jones lambasting one of the attorneys in a Friday segment. Bellis called Jones' behavior on the broadcast 'indefensible,' 'unconscionable,' and 'possibly criminal behavior.' Bellis sanctioned Jones by denying the defense the opportunity to pursue special motions to dismiss moving forward in the lawsuit. The court will also award attorneys fees and filing fees to the Sandy Hook families' lawyers related to the issue...."

Nic Robertson of CNN: "Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi was the victim of a 'deliberate, premeditated execution,' a United Nations special rapporteur has concluded in the first independent investigation into his death. In a much anticipated report, released Wednesday, UN extrajudicial executions investigator Agnes Callamard said that Saudi Arabia was responsible under international law for Khashoggi's 'extrajudicial killing.' A prominent writer and Washington Post columnist, Khashoggi died after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. While Riyadh initially denied any knowledge of the incident, Saudi officials later claimed that a group of rogue operators, many of whom belong to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's inner circle, were responsible for the journalist's death. The Saudi attorney general later acknowledged that Khashoggi was killed in a premeditated murder. The special rapporteur does not make any conclusions on the guilt of the Saudi Crown Prince and King. Instead, Callamard says that there is 'credible evidence meriting further investigation by a proper authority" as to whether the "threshold of criminal responsibility has been met.'"

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Ryan Mac & Joseph Bernstein of BuzzFeed News: "A former Republican operative notorious for his connections to white nationalists has established himself as an opinion contributor for several national publications, including the Wall Street Journal, while writing under a thinly veiled pen name, BuzzFeed News has learned. Marcus Epstein, who worked for former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo and founded a nativist political club with white nationalist Richard Spencer, has written more than a dozen opinion pieces for the Journal, the Hill, Forbes, US News and World Report, and the National Review over the past two years. His pieces, which mainly focus on the regulation of the technology industry, were published under the byline 'Mark Epstein.' In six different pieces for the Journal, Epstein is identified as an 'antitrust attorney and freelance writer' and addresses topics including the supposed threat to conservative speech posed by Google and Facebook, and the ways regulation and antitrust might be used to ensure 'viewpoint neutrality' and consumer protection, respectively. They make no mention of his past, which includes contributions to the white nationalist site VDare and charges that he assaulted a black woman, after racially abusing her, in 2007." Epstein entered an Alford plea on the assault charge.

Beyond the Beltway

Indiana. Olivia Messer of the Daily Beast: Four "named statehouse employees filed a new federal lawsuit against [Indiana's secretary of state Curtis] Hill [R] on Tuesday morning. The 11-count complaint against Hill and the state of Indiana alleges sexual harassment, retaliation, gender discrimination, battery, defamation, and invasion of privacy, according to a draft viewed Monday evening by The Daily Beast." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Way Beyond

Japan. Justin McCurry of the Guardian: "Women have outperformed their male counterparts in entrance examinations for a medical school in Japan that last year admitted rigging admission procedures to give men an unfair advantage. Juntendo University in Tokyo said that of the 1,679 women who took its medical school entrance exam earlier this year, 139, or 8.28%, had passed. The pass rate among 2,202 male candidates was 7.72%." --s ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Wow! That's a tough exam.

Rebecca Ratcliffe of the Guardian: "The number of people forced to flee their homes across the world has exceeded 70 million for the first time since records began, the UN's refugee agency has warned.... The figure of 70.8 million displaced people includes 25.9 million refugees, 41.3 million people displaced within their own borders and 3.5 million asylum seekers. Globally, children make up about half of the refugee population." --s

Sarah Boseley of the Guardian: "A global survey of attitudes towards science has revealed the scale of the crisis of confidence in vaccines in Europe, showing that only 59% of people in western Europe and 50% in the east think vaccines are safe, compared with 79% worldwide. Around the globe, 84% of people acknowledge that vaccines are effective and 92% say their child has received a vaccine. But in spite of good healthcare and education systems, in parts of Europe there is low trust in vaccines. France has the highest levels of distrust, at 33%." --s

News Lede

New York Times: "David Ortiz, the former Boston Red Sox slugger, was not the intended target of a shooting in the Dominican Republic that seriously injured him last week, the authorities in the country said in a news conference Wednesday. It was a stunning revelation in a wild case that has captivated many in the baseball-crazed nation, and across the world. Jean Alain Rodríguez, the country's top prosecutor, said Ortiz, who was shot in the back and underwent emergency surgery that night before being transported to Boston, was wearing similar clothing to a friend, Sixto David Fernandez, who was the intended target of the shooting. Fernandez was sitting at the same table as Ortiz at the Dial Bar and Lounge, a regular hangout for Ortiz in the eastern part of Santo Domingo. Rodríguez also revealed for the first time the man suspected of organizing the entire operation: It was Victor Hugo Gomez, he said, a wanted criminal in the U.S. and member of the Gulf Cartel."

Reader Comments (18)

How could Bob & Rebekah Mercer know that pouring money into Neo-Nazi & pseudo-fascist outfits could stain their carefully guarded reputations? Womp-womp. Sounds like people in their social circle have been mean & ostracised them for their full embrace of white nationalism. If they were transplanted into Hitler's Nazi Germany, the Mercers would have been zealously building tanks and munitions and hob-nobbing with the SS, then quickly packed their bags in the night on a boat to Argentina. That family is scum of the earth.

June 19, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

@Safari: Let's not forget their first foray into backing candidates: That old kook who was asking people to send him their urine because he had come up with some magical potion that would cure everything from boils to bunions. When that didn't work they turned to Cruz, dumped him and then turned to Trump. Scum is too nice a word for these people––their lot produces inimical harm to which they can walk away from without reprieve. Money always talks.

June 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

So, you’re the editor of Real News Daily. You see a sorry bit of news come across the wire, and even though there’s been a deluge of such stories for the last two years, “Russians Elect Prez”, for example, this one offers some interesting options.

A few choices for the headline:

Fake President Gives Fake Economist Medal

Ignoramus Rewards Imbecile

No Laffing Matter: “Economist Sez Up is Down. Gets Medal of Freedom From Black is White Prez

Stupid Reigns: Medal for Moron

So many choices. So much winning. For the bunko artists, grifters, con men, and jackals, that is.

June 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Whew! Just finished reading the saga of the Evangelicals, the "pool boy," the Comedian, the Fixer and Liberty. This is too good not to be a Netflix series. Makes your head swim!

Didn't watch any of Fatty's Florida Fantasy last night but did get a look at the raucous crowd ––do they all come because they are "for" him or are they there for pure entertainment––similar to a circus––bring in the CLOWN!

June 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@Akhilleus: So sorry I missed the build-up to this big story. Re: headlines, the headline writer at New York definitely shares your wavelength. Here's the actual headline for Jonathan Chait's post on Laffer's Presidunchal Metal of Freedumb: "Trump Awards Kook Art Laffer for Inventing Fake Curve."

June 19, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

When did Andy Borowitz switch from satire to actual facts
reporting?
https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/replacement-
for-sarah-sanders-disqualified-after-telling-truth-on-job-application

June 19, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterforrest.morris

The photo of Laffer in the New York article shows the Laffer curve on the blackboard. It indicates why DiJiT likes it. Looks like about a 38DD side-boob. How could it be wrong?

June 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

Orlando, not Miami, was chosen for the campaign kick-off rally I didn't watch for all the reasons we here know so well.

But I did think about it. A re-election campaign launched by a candidate who in his first two years in office has made racist nativism his only genuine initiative--in a state where over one fifth of the population is Hispanic, nearly half of those foreign born.

I know Cuban-American politics is nuanced in ways I'm unaware of but still I wonder how the Pretender's Orlando rally, wrapped as it was in deportation of millions promises, played in Miami, a city where Hispanics, not quite half of them Cuban, are the majority.

Seems oddly complicated to me.

Any thoughts?

June 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

The choice of Orlando over Miami might have something to do with it being the largest city in proximity to the large concentration of right wing conservatives in the state. From Ocala west to the gulf and down toward Tampa you have The Villages. These developments are filled with Boomers from the rust belt and is a Trumpian stronghold.

June 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBobby Lee

@Ken Winkes: It is complicated, as you say. Older Cuban-Americans tend to vote Republican while younger Cuban-Americans (mostly born in the U.S.) are more likely to vote Democratic. (However, younger Americans are also less likely to vote.) The Cuban-American vote in 2016 was 57-40, Trump over Clinton.

For decades, Cuban immigrants were protected by the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, which allowed Cubans picked up in U.S. waters to become legal residents of the U.S. Bill Clinton changed the interpretation of that law, limiting Cubans to a "wet-foot/dry foot" right of residence; that is, they had to touch shore to legally gain residency. Right before the end of his presidency, Obama rescinded the wet-foot/dry-foot policy in exchange for an agreement with Cuba that it would take back Cubans whom the U.S. deported. Cuban-Americans generally opposed Obama's move.

Trump did not reinstate wet-foot/dry-foot. I don't know if Cuba still is accepting Cubans deported from the U.S., the other half of Obama's deal.

Cuban-Americans make up only 6 percent of Florida voters, but obviously in a close election, the way they vote makes all the difference. I think the Cuban-American vote in 2020 is going to depend a lot on how much outreach & GOTV each party expends in the community. There's opportunity for the Democratic nominee to pick up more Cuban-American votes, but he or she will have to grab it. Whoever the nominee is may spend more effort on displaced Puerto Ricans, who moved to Florida by the thousands, especially after the Hurricane Maria disaster. They can vote if they register, and I doubt many will vote for Trump.

As for those 2016 Trump-voting Cuban-Americans, many favor Trump's anti-immigration policy because they perceive it as affecting Central Americans rather than Cubans.

June 19, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Bea,

Kinda thought you might know a little something about Florida politics.

Thanks.

June 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

How successful the Republicans are at suppressing the newly reinstated voting rights of felons will have a big effect on what way Florida swings. And how the courts react and how quickly they act will decide a lot of things in Florida.

June 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRAS

Democrats' spinelessness has shot themselves in the foot so many times, I doubt they have many toes left.

By ceding to Hope Hicks' demands that she testify behind closed doors, they played right into the hands of the Trump Guide to Obstruction.

Now the Dems come stomping out from behind the curtains wailing about "Obstruction!" and claiming "Farce!". Apparently she just sat there, stone faced, and refused to answer the simplest of questions, lawyers blocking answers at every turn. Sounds like a farce to me. But since we've no visual evidence, Hicks just got let off the hook.

She won't get called back, even it she should, because it'll be seen as "pushing too hard." Kind of like pussyfooting with Trump's taxes that New York has wrapped in a bow for Dems, but can't find any destination address. Hicks' obstruction will sink into the noise of the media, with any fact-based reporting shrugged off as "fake news" by Trump and accepted without doubt by all the ill-informed morons too lazy to read, but who WOULD'VE tuned their teevees into the hearing, saw the obstruction with their own eyes, and learned a thing or two.

Maybe the Dems will learn, and force all future testimony to be televised, which is within their power. I'm not confident.

Keeping a count on how shitty the Dems are performing since taking power:
1. Cohen - public testimony, pretty damning.
2. Freddo Jr. - private, limited testimony, a true farce led by Senate Reps. Already forgotten he got a get out of jail free card.
3. John Dean & a couple former prosecutors - public testimony, effective but too obtuse for most Americans.
3. Hicks - private, meaningless.

Hurrah, hurrah. Go donkeys!

June 19, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

An answer from my son clarified something for me today. I asked in passing "what the hell do Hillary's e-mails have to do with the 2020 election. He replied "it's the same reason you go to a Billy Joel concert. To hear the old hits and hope he doesn't spring anything new or different/"

June 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBobby Lee

According to factba.se, the treasonweasel has mentioned Hillary
and her e-mails 2,250 times since he took office 879 days ago.
What else does he have to run on? Hate? Racism? Sexism?
Stupidity? Corruption?
Lock him up! Please.

June 19, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterforrest.morris

Trump dragging out Hillary's e-mails prompted this thought. What's the answer if she quotes KellyAnn with "Blah, blah, blah, when does the sentence start?"

June 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBobby Lee

Soooooo...the headline for today:

Hope fades... OR
Democrats losing Hope... which can be taken several ways...
Ugh.

June 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

From ACLU

"Slavery didn't end in 1865. Its legacy continued for decades through Jim Crow laws and Black Codes, and it lives on through mass incarceration, police brutality, and de facto segregation in every part of the country...

If this country ever wants to achieve true racial justice, then we must examine the impact and legacy of slavery – and start to make amends through reparatory justice. That's why we're joining forces with partners in racial justice to commemorate Juneteenth today, at the historic Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, DC....

There's a bill in the House of Representatives, H.R. 40, that would help spark a national conversation about reparations."

So today I watched this hearing on Salvery Reparation.
The forum featured Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Dr. Ron Daniels, and representatives from the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, National African American Reparations Commission. Ta-Nehisi-Coates spoke elegantly, as he always does, plus Danny Glover was on the panel among others. This was a passionate forum and I'd be very surprised if whatever Congress decides this reparation will consist of it will not pass both House and Senate and the big Blob. But then–––why would I be surprised if it didn't or it ran into all sorts of snags. "We'll see what happens" as HE always says.

Bobby Lee's son's explanation is , I think, exactly right:
"it's the same reason you go to a Billy Joel concert. To hear the old hits and hope he doesn't spring anything new or different."

.

June 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe
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